1. What are the advantages of registering?

    When a death occurs, your next of kin and/or personal representative listed in your will is legally responsible for your remains. Having your written consent on file will help your family decide what to do next during a very stressful time for them. As a member of the program, it is our hope you will have already discussed your wishes with your family and have their support. 

  1. Can I change my mind regarding body donation?

    Yes, you may change your mind at any time regarding your donation. Please let your loved ones know of your final decision, and ask that they honour your wishes. As well, please contact the Body Donation Program to inform them of the changes.

  1. After registering in the program, is my acceptance guaranteed?

    The Cumming School of Medicine greatly appreciates everyone who is willing to donate their remains. There are instances where we will be unable to accept the donation, acceptance decisions cannot be finalized until the time of death. It is much less stressful for your family if you work with them to lay the groundwork for alternative plans. Follow this link to see our exclusion criteria:

  1. I have an underlying medical condition, would this not be of research interest?

    The primary focus in accepting donations into our program is in teaching normal anatomy of the human body not pathology. Contrary to public opinion regarding the nature of medical research, researchers unfortunately do not have legal access to confidential case histories of donors nor do they have in most cases, the need to study diseased tissue to further their particular research endeavours. An alternative would be to consent for autopsy with permission/consent granted for tissue obtained at autopsy to be used for educational and/or research activities.

  1. I have a rare disease. If my body is donated, will my family get a report?

    Our primary focus is in teaching normal anatomy of the human body and so we are unable to provide that kind of service. Families wishing to gain more knowledge about their family member's illness or condition may wish to seek an autopsy which can be arranged through their family doctor and the Department of Pathology at the Foothills Hospital which specializes in this area.

  1. When will we find out if an individual has been accepted?

    The decision to accept will be made after discussing the case with the physician, next of kin or executor at the time of death.

  1. How can we get more info on Organ and Tissue Donation?

    For further information, please contact the nursing coordinator with the Southern Alberta Organ and Tissue Donation Program at 1-403-944-8700.

  1. How do I Register?

    To register in our program, please fill and return the registration form that can be found at the following link: 

    In return, you will receive a formal letter of registration along with two cards that will have an individual registration number as well as our 24/7 notification of death phone line. 

  1. I would like to donate my organs, can I participate in Body Donation too?

    Our program strongly supports all individuals who chose to donate their organs, and we encourage all those interested to register for both programs. At the time of death the acceptance decision will be made by each program based on eligibility criteria. The removal of internal organs and tissues (i.e. excluding cornea & sclera from the eyes) prior to embalming, makes your body unsuitable for our educational needs.

  1. How is my privacy protected?

    The privacy of donors is protected according to current legislative requirement, and all staff members and students are committed to treating all donated bodies with the utmost dignity. Students and researchers are only given the age, gender and cause of death of a body if it's deemed necessary for their studies.

  1. I meet one or more of the exclusion criteria, what are my options?

    If you or your loved one meet one of the above exclusion criteria it is advised that you make alternative arrangements with a funeral home of your choosing. You may also wish to inquire with other programs such as the University of Calgary Brain Bank. 

  1. I'm moving outside of your service area, but would like to donate.

    Unfortunately due to program logistics we often cannot arrange for the movement of potential donors over areas far extending our designated service area. However medical schools across Western Canada do have similar programs:

    University of Alberta Anatomical Gifts - (780) 492-2203

    University of British Columbia - 604-822-2578 / body.program@ubc.ca

    University of Saskatchewan - 306-966-4075

  1. Who do we contact when a potential donor has passed?

    It is imperative that a representative of the Program is contacted as soon as possible, ideally withing 24 hours. We may be reached by calling 403-220-6950 and selecting option #1. A representative is available for notification of passing 24/7/365. If the call is time sensitive our contracted funeral service provider, Alternatives Funeral & Cremation Services, can be reached directly at 403-216-5111.

  1. What does the hospital/care centre do when death of a potential donor occurs?

    If the body has been accepted, the body should be prepared in the same fashion as would be done for a funeral home including documentation. The university will also make the necessary arrangements for transportation of the body to the university. 

  1. Are there any costs associated with Body Donation?

    For accepted donations, all costs will be covered by the University of Calgary Body Donation Program. These include the transportation of the body, cremation and interment of the cremated remains in the university plot at Queen's Park Cemetery. Should the family wish to have the remains returned to them, the cost of a private internment or burial would be borne by the family. 

  1. What if death occurs outside of Calgary?

    The boundaries of the University of Calgary's service area for accepting donations are: North to Red Deer, South to U.S.A. border, East to Saskatchewan border and West to B.C. border. If a death occurs outside our service area please be aware that we will not be able to accept the donation. We reserve the right to amend our service area under certain circumstances on a case by case basis. 

  1. If I donate my body, what happens after studies are completed?

    Depending on how the body is to be utilized, it can be in our care anywhere from several months up to six years or more. Afterwards, the remains are cremated and returned to the university in preparation for final disposition as previously arranged with the personal representative named in the will of the decedent and/or next-of-kin.

  1. How long can one expect to be in the Program?

    The average length of stay in our Program is six years, but varies greatly. We advise donors and families to be comfortable with the six year time period. 

  1. Will my remains be returned to my loved ones?

    Yes, if that's the family's wish and consistent with the wishes of the personal representative you named in your will. Changes, however, can be made at anytime prior to final disposition.

  1. How does the University prepare the bodies for cremation and burial?

    The bodies are cremated separately by our contracted provider Alternatives Funeral & Cremation Services. The cremated remains are respectfully placed into individual temporary urns for either burial in the university plot or returned to the family for private disposition.

  1. When and where are Memorial Services?

    Memorial Services take place every two years after the Labour Day long weekend in September. The University of Calgary has a designated plot at the Queen's Park Cemetery in Northwest Calgary. The location is just off of the north entrance on 40th Avenue N.W. More information can be found at the following: 

  1. How does the University contact family for the Service or Urn pickup?

    Contact with family members or executors are made with phone calls and/or registered letters based on the information gathered at the time of the arrangements. It is the responsibility of the executor or next-of-kin to inform us of any changes to their contact information.

  2. Where can we meet for pick-up?

    If you have received a letter of study completion from the University of Calgary Body Donation Program, you may wish to pick up your loved ones urn directly from the University of Calgary Foothills Campus. To do so, please schedule an appointment by contacting us through email or phone. When an appointment has been made, please meet us at the Health Sciences Centre Information Desk, not at our primary office as we don't have sufficient office space. The lot most conveniently located for parking is Lot #6.  

  1. What happens to the remains if the family cannot be contacted?

    In cases where families have not maintained updated contact information we will hold the cremated remains for a period of one year after cremation and will inter the cremated remains in the university plot at the next available memorial service.

  1. Is there a commemorative marker with the names of those buried? Can we do so?

    There is a single granite marker for the University of Calgary section in the cemetery but there are no individual names inscribed. Unfortunately in these plots, it is not possible to have individual markers installed. You may wish to contact the cemetery office and make inquiries into other possible forms of memorialization (i.e. tree planting or park benches etc.).

  1. Can multiple family members be interred together?

    Unfortunately, due to our policy of not accepting donors until time of death, as well as the logistics of long term storage of urns, we do not allow requests for donors to be interred together.